For the last blog post of our mini-series celebrating black women, we are highlighting three amazing black women in STEM whose intelligence, drive, and success motivate and inspire us in our work and daily lives. Each of these women has contributed immensely to science and technology, and we are so grateful for their work.
Susan McKinney-Steward was the first African-American woman to earn a medical degree in New York and the third in the country, and she focused her medical career on prenatal health and childhood disease. In addition to practicing medicine, she fought for African-American and Women’s rights, and she founded clinics and clubs to bolster these causes in her community.
Katherine Johnson was a mathematician whose calculations were crucial to the success of critical NASA operations, as she was among the first African-American women to work as a NASA scientist. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 from Barack Obama, as well as other awards, for being a pioneer in space science and technology.
“We needed to be assertive as women in those days – assertive and aggressive – and the degree to which we had to be that way depended on where you were. I had to be.” –Katherine Johnson
Joycelyn Elders was the first African-American and second woman to be named US Surgeon General. She was born to a family of sharecroppers and grew up to attain a medical degree from the University of Arkansas, and she later became a pediatric endocrinologist and medical school professor. She also known for advocacy for black physicians in the medical field.
"We’ve tried ignorance for a thousand years. It’s time we try education” –Joycelyn Elders
Though this post concludes our series, there are so many other black women who we admire. In our series, we have only mentioned a handful of the multitude of black women who have achieved greatness in our country, but we are so glad that we have had the opportunity to share their accomplishments. Each of these women has had a unique and integral role in shaping our society, and we want to highlight their importance and their contributions.